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Jets "park it," move on and focus on the Leafs

by Ryan Dittrick (@ryandittrick) / Winnipeg Jets


ETOBICOKE, Ontario – Park it and move on. The Winnipeg Jets are determined to make amends.

On the heels of a disappointing 5-1 loss to the Washington Capitals last night, the Jets were back on the ice today at the MasterCard Centre preparing for Saturday’s Hockey Night in Canada clash with the struggling Toronto Maple Leafs.

“They have a good sense of what happened, why it happened and where we’ve been off,” Head Coach Paul Maurice said. “We’re a little befuddled by our penalty killling right now, but other than that they’ve done well at addressing what wasn’t right and getting back to how we’re supposed
to look.”

The Jets practiced for just under an hour in what can only be described as one of the more up-tempo skates in recent memory.

Dustin Byfuglien, Andrew Ladd and Blake Wheeler did not participate. “They’re all OK,” Maurice said. “We’re hopeful they’ll be in tomorrow.”

“It was one of those practices where you don’t really worry about scoring goals or how your hands are. It’s just about getting your feet moving and getting that game pace up,” Bryan Little said.

“We wanted to get that game out of our system. Everyone knows that it wasn’t our best effort. Those things are going to happen in an 82-game season. You’re going to have nights where you just don’t have it and that was definitely the case last night. ... Today was about moving forward and making sure we come out hard tomorrow.”

Little leads the Jets in scoring with 23 goals and 49 points this season. The 27-year-old, who played his junior hockey just north of here in Barrie, has five goals and 11 points in his last nine games.

“It’s exciting playing here,” he said. “We always have a lot of family and friends in the stands, so it should be fun.

“It’s a big game for us. Those points mean a lot, so it’s going to be a good time.”

Tomorrow’s opponent, the Leafs, have gone 2-15-2 since Jan. 1 and are in action tonight against the Carolina Hurricanes at PNC Arena. With the NHL’s Mar. 2 Trade Deadline fast approaching, the centre of the hockey universe is preparing itself for what could be one of the more significant days in franchise history.

The Jets, meanwhile, are on the opposite end of the spectrum and are currently in a playoff spot with 70 points and 22 games to play. But with only a 4-6-2 record since the All-Star Break, the Jets know they need to pick it up. The hard-charging San Jose Sharks are only two points back – the defending Stanley Cup Champion Los Angeles Kings, four.

Both the Kings and Minnesota Wild, who are five points back, have three games in hand.

PARDY ON THE WING

With the injury to Mathieu Perreault and the subsequent recall of Carl Klingberg from the St. John’s IceCaps, the Jets were looking for a bit of a spark up front last night.

Klingberg did take the pre-game warmup but did not dress. Instead, Adam Pardy lined up at forward (alongside Jim Slater and Anthony Peluso), playing a total of 11:49 in all situations.

“I felt pretty good. It was cool to see a different side of the game,” Pardy said. “We only had four shifts [together] but I thought they went well. … It was something new for us. It was a bit of an adjustment but I thought it looked pretty good.

“Sometimes you don’t realize what it’s like to play another position. I got out there and felt like I was just chasing that thing around like a chicken with its head cut off a couple of times.”

Pardy was back skating on defence at today's practice.

BACK IN HIS OLD STOMPING GROUNDS

Maurice, a product of Sault Ste. Marie, spent three years with the Leafs organization from 2005 to 2008. He spent one year (2005-06) with the AHL’s Marlies before taking over the head-coaching duties of the big club, assembling an 81-60-21 record over two full seasons.

Toronto is unlike any other hockey market in the NHL, he says.

“(The pressure) is real. There’s not necessarily any more pressure in terms of the desire to win games – that doesn’t change regardless of the market that you’re in – but controlling a message inside your room is so much more difficult when you know that anything, as a coach, that you say results in 10 more cameras in three more [locker] stalls. If you’re saying something good about a player, he’s a rock star. If a guy has a tough night and you want to deal with the media honestly, you’ve got to be careful about what you say. Then the next day or maybe even that day, it’s a drive-by shooting.

“It’s 40 people in the stall figuring out that they should trade him, play him more, execute him. It’s a challenge and it takes a while to get a handle on it. I don’t know that I ever did. I thought Pat Quinn was probably the best at it because, for the most part, everyone was a little afraid of him. … There’s a major difference of what you have to deal with in terms of controlling the message inside your room.”

— Ryan Dittrick, WinnipegJets.com

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